CHIEF EXECUTIVE'S MESSAGE
The Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) is responsible for overseeing occupational safety and health by ensuring that all employers have in place infrastructure and systems to ensure safety and health at the work place.
In recent years, we have noticed an increase in the number of employers who voluntarily request OSHA to inspect their premises or ask for tailor-made occupational safety and health (OSH) training programs for their employees. This is an important indicator of success. OSHA focuses on educating rather than penalizing employers who do not adhere to OSH requirements so that they see the need to ensure safety and health in the workplace because they know it is important and not because they are required to do so. However, we are still facing two major challenges; i) limited knowledge on the importance of OSH among some employers, and ii) lack of adherence to OSH requirements and standards. The latter is a result of a misguided belief among some employers about the supposedly high costs of adhering to OSH, which is contrary to reality. Research confirms that the benefits of ensuring OSH are greater than the costs.
As the Chief Executive of this crucial institution, this is my vision for OSHA in the next five years:
1) That OSHA is boosting productivity by overseeing safety at the workplace and protecting the health of employees while at work in order to reduce accidents, health hazards and deaths from work processes.
2) That OSHA has established participatory systems where employers and OSHA are working together to ensure voluntary implementation of OSH standards at the workplace.
3) That OSHA has brought on board the informal sector which comprises a huge number of formally employed and self-employed workers and is developing strategies and sutainable programs that will ensure safety at the workplace and optimum health of the workforce in that sector.
4) That OSHA is contributing in the creation of respectable jobs as part of the Milennium Development Goals, specifically, goal No. 8 on global partnership for development by working with employers to facilitate the use of new technologies in work operations wherever possible.
OSHA is guided by a ‘Vision Zero’ agenda, through which, in a few years to come we expect to see ZERO injuries and accidents at workplaces; ZERO adverse health effects caused by the workplace environment and work processes; and ZERO work-related deaths. We want employers and employees to understand the link between safety and health at the workplace, increased productivity and increased national income. We also want them to appreciate that the benefits from investments made to ensure safety and health outweigh the costs in that reduced accidents, health hazards, disability and deaths at the workplace equals reduced household poverty. Moreover, we want employees to realize the importance of using protective gear while at work and to demand such gear from their employers where it is not provided.
And finally, we want employers and employees and the public at large to appreciate that the Government’s ability to provide quality social services to its citizenry is dependent on increased productivity which can only be ensured through safe work environments and and healthy employees.